After bailout, county not hiring

Coos County Jail Administrator Brad Cook walks through an empty jail block in 2007.

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COOS COUNTY — The Coos County Sheriff’s Office is cutting down on how many people it will book into jail as it takes on a number of precautions to protect its staff and inmates against COVID-19, more commonly known as the novel coronavirus.

Coos County Sheriff Craig Zanni informed Coos County Commissioners Tuesday morning at a board meeting of the new limitations which also included other protective measures such as screening new inmates who display flu-like symptoms, limiting patrols and restricting arrests.

At this time, the Sheriff’s Office is asking law enforcement agencies throughout the county to cut down on arrests for minor misdemeanors as a way to limit staff and other inmate exposure to the coronavirus.

Citations for misdemeanors will still be issued. People who have been accused of a Measure 11 crime, which includes a number of sex and violent crimes, will still be arrested and booked into custody. 

According to Coos County Sheriff's Cpt. Gabe Fabrizio, offenders who are being admitted will have their temperature taken at the jail's sally port entrance. For those with an above average temperature they will be denied entry and redirected to the hospital. 

In addition to limiting the number of inmates, the Sheriff’s Office is also trying to set aside space within the jail to isolate people who are considered high-risk, said Fabrizio. 

A challenge for jails, Fabrizio said staff and inmates are doing the best they can to practice social distancing and isolation. The goal is prevent the spread of the coronavirus and to keep everyone safe, he added.

At a work session meeting held Tuesday at the Owen Building to discuss the county’s pandemic polices, Zanni also informed commissioners that the Sheriff’s Office is looking into potentially releasing a number of non-violent inmates with court cases that are currently delayed.

The inmates eligible for release will have to pass a number of other guidelines not yet determined as the Sheriff's Office is continuing conversations with the Coos County District Attorney's Office as well as other local, state and federal agencies.   

According to Zanni, the Coos County Animal Shelter is also working to limit its exposure to the virus. The shelter, which is now closed, can still be reached via phone at 541-751-2480.

Last week, the Sheriff’s Office limited its traffic by closing its new Concealed Handgun License applications, Concealed Handgun License renewals, fingerprinting and issuance of IDs.

"The counter will still be open for walk-in traffic, but we would ask that if a matter could be handled by telephone, please call 541-396-7800 or 541-396-7801 for records and evidence questions," said a press release from the Coos County Sheriff's Office. "The Dispatch non-emergency line is 541-396-2106."

The Sheriff's Office limited in-person services will remain in effect until Friday, March 27 at 5 p.m.

Reporter Amanda Linares can be reached at 541-266-6039 or by email at worldnews3@countrymedia.net.

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